Intentional Practice – Shot Sequence Part II

It was a typical day; after busting tail at work and then coming home to my “second shift” – wrestling with the kids, doing dinner, baths, bedtime stories, etc., I headed to the yard for a quick shooting session.   This is my time to unwind.

I have found that there are good days of shooting, and of course there are bad days too.  This was a good day.  The arrows were falling right where I wanted them to and every step of the process was totally comfortable.  If only every day were like that, right?

The single most important thing that I have learned in my time as an archer and bowhunter has been to use a shot sequence.  Last week I introduced the idea of a shot sequence, and this week I fully explain what my shot sequence is and how I use it.

A shot sequence is good for the good days, but it is also good for the bad days.  When something isn’t right in your shooting, you shot sequence can often diagnose the problem for you.

Opening day will soon be upon us, so now is the time to get to work developing, implementing, and practicing your shot sequence!

Putting my Shot Sequence to work...

In Part I we discussed why a shot sequence is important; today I want to discuss what my shot sequence is and explain how I use it. The goal of this post it to show you, in detail, how I use a shot sequence – not so that you will copy it outright, but so that you can get an idea of how to make your own shot sequence that complements your shooting.

As I said last time, I don’t want to waste any shots. Each and every bad or lazy shot is a step in the wrong direction. Here is what I think through for each and every shot…

“AGLAS”

Yes, AGLAS. That is my shot sequence:

Anchor, Grip, Level, Aim, Squeeze

ANCHOR

It all starts with your anchor point, which is truly the foundation of a successfully executed shot.  The purpose of your anchor point is to ensure that you are setting up in proper form, and putting your sights in line the same way for each and every shot.

Your anchor point needs to be three things – identifiable, comfortable, and repeatable.  

First, you need to be able to identify certain points at which your hand and face should make contact, as well as nose to string contact if possible.

Secondly, your anchor point also needs to be comfortable.  You shouldn’t have to stretch, slump, or otherwise move in to position; your anchor position should come naturally.

Lastly, your anchor point needs to be repeatable.  Each and every time your draw your bow back, your anchor needs to be exactly the same.  If your anchor point is moving from shot to shot, or floating during your shot, there is no way that you can be consistently on target.

Before you get any further with your shot, check your anchor!

GRIP

Grip used to be the first thing that I focused on in my shot sequence, before I drew the bow back to my anchor point.  The reason that I have moved grip to the second item in my “checklist” is that I have found that sometimes we change our grip over the course of the draw cycle.  You may have had a proper grip before you drew the bow back, but what does your grip look like after you have settled into to your anchor?

This isn’t an article on proper grip, although that is a very important subject, but I will quickly mention this – keep it light.  You aren’t really looking to hold the bow; you just want to let it rest in your hand.

LEVEL

As my grip has improved, the need to level my bow at full draw has often become unnecessary, but I still check my level as a part of every shot sequence for one very important reason…

What may “feel” level isn’t always level.  

It is amazing how a little change in elevation or terrain can throw off our internal “feeling” of level.  There are countless times that I could have sworn I was level at full draw, but that little bubble was telling me otherwise.  This happens most often when I am shooting across a hill, shooting at an elevated target, or shooting down from an elevated position.

Most treestand hunters know that you should bend at the waist when aiming down, but have you ever noticed how easy it is to torque the bow out of level when doing so?  You may be surprised!

Check your level!

AIM

This is the “Duh!” moment of my shot sequence, right?  I can hear you now, telling me in a sarcastic tone, “Don’t forget to aim!”  Yeah, yeah, I hear you.

The reason that I included aiming as a part of my shot sequence is directly related to a bad habit that I had previously developed.  Instead of letting the pins settle on the target, I would try to punch the trigger at the exact moment that my pin wandered over my intended point of impact.  You can imagine how well that worked.  (Not very well!)

To correct my bad habit I started practicing with the goal of releasing the shot only after I had settled my pin on the intended spot of impact, and held my pin there for a good two seconds.  It is amazing how easy it is to hold your pin on target if you just give yourself a moment to settle and breathe.

Having “aim” in my shot sequence reminds me to settle the pin, hold steady, breathe and…

SQUEEZE

Up until this point I have made sure that my form is in order, and that I am on target correctly, now I just have one thing left to do…don’t jerk the shot!

The “squeeze” step is all about putting pressure on the trigger while continuing to breathe and aim.  Squeeze is about letting the shot surprise you, and holding form and aim until the arrow reaches the target (follow through).

“AGLAS”

That is my shot sequence and it has helped me tremendously!  I don’t think you have to copy my shot sequence, but I do think you should work on creating one for yourself.

Here are a couple of things to keep in mind as you go about creating your own shot sequence.

Your shot sequence needs to be easy to remember.  Try and come up with an acronym, or catchy way of remembering each step.  Combine steps if necessary – you can see that in my last two steps, Aim and Squeeze, there is more going on than just those two things (breathing, settling, follow through, etc.).  If I tried to remember each one individually I would probably forget them all.

Your shot sequence needs to be easy to work through, and as short as possible, while still including what is necessary.  Don’t have a 10-point checklist to run through, it won’t work!

Remember, the goal is to use this sequence for each and every shot!  Think of items that you need help with, and be sure to include them in your checklist.

How about you?  Do you have a shot sequence, or are you going to starting working on one?

This article also appeared on WiredToHunt.com

Wired To Hunt Logo

Friday Files – Giveaways & Gear Deals!

Who doesn’t love giveaways and gear deals?

Harvest Time HT-2 Arrows

A Great Arrow Deal

You may remember that last year I reviewed the Harvest Time HT-2 arrows.  Harvest Time has since been bought out by Muddy, and Muddy has re-branded the same arrows as  Muddy’s “BloodSport HT-2″.  My friends at Wide Open Spaces are going to be selling left-over Harvest Time branded arrows later today.  The price is going to be great, but to sweeten the deal Wide Open Space has also offered Sole Adventure readers an extra 15% discount.

Get 15% off any Wide Open Spaces purchase now through Sunday.  Use coupon code “SOLE15″!

The coupon code is good for any purchase and should be entered on the last page of the checkout. ( At the bottom right there is a box for discount code below the total.  Once entered the total will update.)

Shop now and be sure to sign up to get notified of future deals…they have some great bowhunting gear coming up as season approaches!

$50 Gift Card Giveaway

Don’t forget that I am giving away a $50 gift card to HuntingBoots.com.  Visit the giveaway post and leave a comment to enter.

The Biggest Hunting Gear Giveaway Ever?

“Searching For West” is a new video project launched by Mark Seacat.  The companies sponsoring the film have put together an unbelievable opportunity to win tens-of-thousands of dollars worth of gear. Be sure to get entered!

Fred Bear Hunting Secrets

Check out this audio interview with the great Fred Bear.  Learn from the legend…

How to Use the Summer Months to Protect Your Hunting Rights

The summer isn’t just for scouting and practicing with your bow.  Learn how you can use your summer to get involved and protect your hunting rights.  Here’s what you can do…

Tell Me About Your Boots and Win $50 From HuntingBoots.com

Which type of boots do you prefer?

I’ve got solid hiking boots for my hunts that take me miles into the woods, and I’ve got rubber boots that are insulated to the max for cold weather tree stand hunts.  What I am missing is a lighter-weight boot for warm weather outings in the early archery season.

Should I go with something lightweight and stealth, like the Danner Jackal II?  Or, should I stick with something that will offer better coverage and scent control, such as the Rocky ProLight series?

What type of boots do you use for early-to-mid archery season?  What aspects of a boot are most important to you?

Leave a comment below and tell me about your preferred early-to-mid season boots, and you will be entered to win a $50 gift card from my friends at HuntingBoots.com!

I will draw the winner on the morning of  July 20th.  If you have any trouble with the comment form below, please contact me and I’ll get you entered.  Thanks!

Reflections from 30,000 Feet

“Ladies and gentleman, can I have your attention? The captain has turned off the ‘fasten seatbelt’ sign, indicating that you are now free to move about the aircraft.”

Move about the aircraft? That hardly seems feasible. The man in front of me has reclined his seat, cramming my 6’3” frame into a position that makes me think I could qualify as an act for the Cirque du Soleil. The lady next to me has fallen asleep and somehow managed to place a good portion of her body weight onto my left side.  Move about the aircraft? I hardly have room for my chest to make the slow rise and fall that is required to breathe the stale air that surrounds me.

Mountain view from the sky

My attention turns to my right, and the clouds outside the tiny window. We pass in-and-out of these clouds as we make our way across the Northwest, towards Missouri. We have departed from Washington State and will be crossing over some of the best land that the West has to offer.

I am passing by these lands at a rate of over five-hundred miles-per-hour, from over thirty-thousand feet in the sky. I can make out certain prominent features of the terrain, but what I cannot see from this perspective is the vast amount of wild game that inhabit these lands.

My mind wanders from the terrain, to the game, to the hunter.

These lands are much more than beautiful and bountiful; they are lands in which hunters that I know make their pursuit. I think of Dan, Dustin, Steve, Rob, Emily, and Tom. I think of the game that they pursue in Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and other western states.

I don’t hunt in all of these states, nor do I hunt every species live in them, but these lands are still something that I should care about. I shouldn’t care for these lands simply because I know folks that hunt them – although that does strengthen my resolve – I should care for these lands because it is for the good of hunting.

I have a deep conviction that hunters need to protect our lands, and also work with one another to protect all types of historical, ethical, fair chase hunting. Many hunters are only concerned with what happens on their hunting land and to the species that they enjoy hunting.  Sadly, like I have thought that way, too.

It is critical that we learn to see beyond our own hunting.

We, as hunters, must begin to see the big picture. And not only see it, but work to protect it. One of the most frustrating experiences I have had with hunters has been the mindset that, “Issue X doesn’t apply to me directly, or present any harm to my way of hunting, therefore it doesn’t matter.”

That kind of thinking is reckless, and it presents a very real danger to the future of hunting.

I hope that you are a passionate and driven hunter. But even more than that, I hope that you realize that you – yes, YOU! – have a role to play in securing the future of hunting.

The lies are easy to believe. We can say that the problem is too big, or that the problem is too far removed from my back yard.  We can think someone else will take care of the problem, or pretend that we didn’t know there was a problem to begin with.  All would be lies.

The truth?

The truth is that the problem is big. But we can each be a small part of the solution, and work together to ensure quality hunting for our next season, as well as for future generations.

The truth is that the problem may be hundreds, or even thousands of miles away, but if it is affecting hunting, then it should matter to all of us.

The truth is that, while someone else may be working on an issue, we all have a part to play.

The true is that we can’t afford to claim ignorance. We can’t afford to not pay attention. We must learn about what issues are facing hunting today. We owe it to ourselves, and we owe it to hunters everywhere.

Henry Ford once said,

“There are no big problems, there are just a lot of little problems.”

Before I buckle my seatbelt and prepare for landing, I have one question for you…

What little problem can you begin to help solve?

 

Intentional Practice – Shot Sequence Part I

Arrows on Target

In life there are no shortcuts to lasting success.  None.  Success is a combination of hard work, smart work, and luck. Bowhunting is no exception.

If you want a become a more accurate archer, and therefore a better bowhunter, you will most likely come to the conclusion that you need to shoot more, and you are probably right…to an extent. However, simply increasing the number of shots we take isn’t going to make us better; in fact it may hurt us in the long run.

You have no doubt heard the phrase, “Practice makes perfect.”  Many of you may have even heard the escalation of that phrase, “Perfect practice makes perfect.”  Becoming a more accurate archer isn’t about how many shots you take in a practice session; it is about how many perfect shots you execute in a practice session.

Each and every lazy, wasted, bad shot is a step in the wrong direction.  The key to becoming a better archer is to make each and every shot count, and the best way that I have found to do that is to shoot with a shot sequence.

What is a shot sequence?

I like to think of it as a “mental checklist” that I run through for each and every shot that I take.  However, the entire point of my shot sequence is to train my body to shoot without thinking.

When the moment comes and you finally get the animal you have been pursuing into bow range, adrenaline takes over.  I don’t know about you, but in that moment, I am not always able to settle down and run through my shot sequence.  It could be because I am too excited, which I do have some control over, or it could be because this animal is giving me a limited opportunity to make the shot and I have to get right down to business.

In these moments our shooting should be automatic, and while we may not have time to run through our shot sequence, it should be so ingrained in our minds and muscle memory that we follow the steps of our shot sequence without consciously deciding to do so.

Additionally, my shot sequence is critical for helping me diagnose bad shots.  When I utilize my shot sequence, I can immediately identify what went wrong when I make a bad shot – whether it was my grip, bow torque, a flinch, or my aim – I will know for sure.

So the big question is: What is a good shot sequence, and how can I begin using one?  Obviously not everyone will want to use the exact same shot sequence, but there are common elements of a shot sequence that everyone should employ.

Stay tuned for Part II to learn more about that!  (UPDATE – Here is Part II)

This article also appeared on WiredToHunt.com

Wired To Hunt Logo